In the words of Sounds of the Dead Records, "Christmas will never be the same." If you're tired of listening to your mom's Amy Grant Christmas CD over and over during the holidays, this year you can do something about it. This holiday season, Mom will have to sing along to her favorites in a whole new way. SOTD has released "A Brutal Christmas: The Season in Chaos", which contains a slew of metal bands playing your favorite Christmas tunes. The bands on this compilation include Archer, Kekal, Royal Anguish (w/Mistral), Frank's Enemy, Frost Like Ashes, Tortured Conscience, Hearken, Death Requisite, EverSINcEve, Faithbomb, and Pure Defiance.
The standout cut for sure on this disc is the powerful and emotional version of "Mary Did You Know?" by Royal Anguish with help from Mistral. The blazing guitar work, the clean/death vocal trade-offs, and solid keyboards make for a very memorable song. I could use an entire Christmas album of these two bands. The intense growling about the 1:20 mark of "The blind will see/the deaf will hear/the dead will live again/the lame will leap/the tongue will speak/the presence of the Lamb" just gives me chills! Excellent stuff!
Frost Like Ashes turns in a killer version of "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence/O Come Emmanuel". The song starts out all nice and sweet before they rip your skeleton right out of your skin. They start to replace it about mid-song before snatching it right back. This band plays some intense black/death metal that is very promising. Tortured Conscience cranks out a brutal, yet hilarious version of "Little Drummer Boy". As they growl out, "Ba Rum Pum Pum Pum", I can't help but fall of the floor cracking up. Archer was a welcome surprise playing "Angels We Have Heard on High." This is a band that I'm definitely gonna keep my eye on. Super fast guitars, a terrific solo, and gritty clean vocals all mix very well on this song.
Kekal shows up here and as usual, I have mixed feelings. They start out great with some blasting and black vocals, then in come those retarded clean vocals that they, for some weird reason, think sound good. The song is actually not that bad, I just don't understand why bands change, but then end up getting stuck in a horrid rut with something that sounds idiotic. Frank's Enemy plays "Coventry Carol" here. This is my first exposure to Frank's Enemy and I'm not that impressed. Most of the song is slow and mellow with some female singer, then they go totally insane for a small period of time about mid song with mega-deep growling, shrieking, and distortion galore before ending mellow again. A pretty boring tune actually.
Hearken does a death metal version of "O Come All Ye Faithful" that is pretty decent, while Death Requisite does a black metal version of "Child Messiah" that is pretty cool. EverSINcEve play my all time favorite Christmas song "O Holy Night". They do a commendable job, but no where near the killer version that Eric Clayton and Eva-O did a few years ago. Faithbomb rips through the fastest version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" I've ever heard. Not really in musical speed, but in length of song. They appear, and then BAM!, their gone. Really, the only song I didn't care for was "Joy to the World" by Pure Defiance. Think Five Iron Frenzy with a metal edge, dragging "Joy to the World" into a six-minute plus song! Yikes! Thank goodness it's the last song on the CD. The stop button comes in very handy here.
This disc has a pretty solid lineup, some EXCELLENT songs, some quality songs, some so-so songs, and one throw away, along with some pretty good production and cool artwork. This is definitely a disc that you don't want to wait until Christmas to purchase. Check out www.sotdrecords.com for more info. Rating - 8.5 (Review by Matt)
(Check out an severely edited version of this review in the Nov/Dec issue of HM Magazine.)